Boxing and martial arts have become popular ways to get in shape for both men and women. No opponent is needed to get results -- the punching motions and footwork can improve your cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength. Boxing basics, plus more advanced moves, are covered in "Start Punching," a video by kickboxing champion Derek Panza.
"Start Punching": The formidable-looking Panza is a former kickboxing and karate champion. But don't let the bald head, bulging biceps and stern gaze intimidate you -- he's a skilled teacher who patiently takes viewers through a thorough and demanding workout that includes stretches, warm-ups and punching technique. Panza is a stickler for proper form when throwing uppercuts, jabs and hooks.
"Poor technique makes you more injury prone," says Panza, who owns a martial arts and boxing studio on Long Island. "Also, when you're using correct form you use your whole body. A punch isn't just from the shoulders, it also comes from the legs."
Other instructors in the video take beginners through easier, modified workouts.
Although mastering the techniques may give viewers confidence, Panza says they shouldn't overestimate their ability to get into a ring or prevail in a fight.
"Self-defense is a process," he says. "You can't watch one video and think you can defend yourself. It's not safe."
Price: $19.98, available at www.startpunching.com, or Amazon.com
-- Jeannine Stein